How God Speaks To Us

“I didn’t really leave quietly,” said the gentle voice of the man sitting across from the screen from me, “I ran screaming.” Scott Maderer. He was talking about his exit from the church world. “It wasn’t until years later that I came back to God.”


For his day job, Scott works with ETS. The testing service that gives us all of the wonderful things we love to hate. Like the GRE, of which I am too familiar and has made me feel less than genius more than once. His dream is one that he pursues with his wife. Together they do financial leadership or stewardship coaching, as well as entreleadership through Dave Ramsey’s company. When he told me this, he said,“we’re calling it "stewardship coaching"  even though it’s kind of a Christian buzzword. We're trying to reclaim it as more than being about money but rather stewarding all of your gifts for God's glory. That's really where it starts to feel real. People put up barriers. Part of stewarding well is getting rid of those barriers.”


Getting rid of barriers and Dave Ramsey is where our story comes back to Scott’s return to faith.


“It was because of Dave Ramsey. My marriage is saved, I didn’t commit suicide, and I found God again because I started listening to his radio show. Sounds crazy, right? But I think God speaks to us in the way we can hear Him. We were so in debt and I didn’t know how we were going to get out of it. There was the answer.”


God speaks to us in the way we can hear Him.


My mind is blown away by both the simplicity and the profundity of this statement. It echoes in me as I think of the ways He has done this in me, in those around me. The way He is doing it in you.


“It’s why we coach now,” Scott continued, “to give others to the opportunity to have this experience.” I asked him what it was like to pursue your dream alongside of your spouse. “It’s terrifying. You wonder what will happen if something goes wrong; it goes to our core. It’s inspiring; it is incredibly deep. Anything that feels like that much of your identity is fear inducing. I think this is why so many people don’t even try to live a dream.”


It’s true. I’ve heard it said so many times. People know what they were created to do but fear stands in their way. Some of their largest fears are money and time. Scott and his wife are teaching people how to steward these things, their lives, well. They have already helped many clients and friends achieve freedom from debt and learn how to become better stewards in various areas of their lives. A new website  was even launched a month ago. The Maderers hope to be full-time by the end of the year. “We’re waiting for the boat to get a little closer to the dock before we jump,” he said to me, smiling.


I smile back and think, “that is a good thing.” I think that is called wisdom. I think that Scott and his wife have learned to mutiny well and are teaching others how to do the same thing. God speaks to us in the way we can hear Him. If we are willing to listen, it can move us forward into the most beautiful dreams we were created to pursue.

Mutiny Well, Dreamer.

Build A Dream, Find A Dream

“Hey, Rugby!” I heard a voice coming from the back as I tripped into the half empty bus from the rainy afternoon. I knew without having to ask that this stranger was referring to me. It was almost a year ago and I was San Diego for the Storyline conference put on by Donald Miller and his team. I had the (mis)fortune of participating in a pre-conference improv workshop put on by Tripp Crosby. Somehow I found myself on-stage in an improv exercise that led to me hinting at some sort of misconduct with an entire rugby team. That combined with my hot pink rainboots had led to some notoriety at the conference. The voice at the back of the bus was accompanied by sparkling eyes and a mischevious grin. I would find out it’s owner’s name was April Beltran.


April is an artist and a writer. She is a graphic designer who loves to travel. And when I met her she had many dreams and no specific dream and she wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted. After Storyline, we kept in touch. As we continued getting to know each other, I learned something quickly about April. Her family is extremely important to her. Many of the dreamers that I talk are incredibly passionate about their dreams. And April is. When I would talk to her, she would discuss her artwork and what she hoped it would accomplish and where it would go. But as much as she talked about her dream, it was matched by her family. Her hopes and dreams for them. Her love for them.


When I learned she was putting her dream on hold for a little bit to make one of her family’s dreams come true, it wasn’t surprising to me. Her father has an illness that is causing him to lose his sight. He has always wanted to travel to the Philippines. April created a crowdfunding campaign to make this dream a reality. She could have created a campaign to launch some of her dreams but instead she decided that this was the one she wanted to see come to life. Her campaign was successful and the trip was this year’s Christmas present to her family.  


April told me this, “While funding my dad's trip I found my own. My dream is to live fully so others can live as well. Letting go of  a career so that I could find the thing He wanted me to. I don't want anymore starving artists I want thriving ones.” She is currently working for a start-up while traveling the world with her team. She is living her dream. “When I get super fixated on this dream. When I get tunnel vision on the dream, I miss out on all the things along the way. Loving what I do and getting to support other people in their dreams and travel.”


Sometimes when we help make the dreams of someone else come true, we find our own. If we are willing to support the pursuits of those around us and encourage them, our time will come. Perspective is a funny. When we are willing to take our eyes off of ourselves, dreams beyond our own can come true.

Mutiny Well, Dreamer.

I Still Believe In 398.2 (Fairy Tales)

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“I still believe in 398.2.” I do. I really do. 398.2 is a part of the Dewey Decimal system. It is the section of the library where you will find folk stories and fairy tales. The words I am staring at are engraved on a brass plate tied down to a leather bracelet wrapped around my arm. “I still believe,” I whisper softly to myself. Because I do.

Even after everything. The divorce. The assault. The manipulative half relationship I managed to maneuver myself into for too long. Even after all of that. I still believe. Which is a little ridiculous when you think about it. So many events and situations have played out in the past year to teach me that love and relationships are ugly. Life has tried to teach me that love is transactional. Men only want to use you and that I am unworthy of being fought and cared for.

Though some elements of fairy tales speak to me, I live firmly rooted in the real world where the laws of science apply. Thankfully we have this little thing called Newton’s Third Law, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This is obviously speaking about motion but I think it works in life too. And it is what has happened to me.

Good men have filled my life in the past year, fighting the darkness with their light.

I talk so much about the incredible women in my life and I thought it was time I told you about these men. Some of you reading this need hope. Some of you have been wounded deeply by those who promised to love you. Some of you have had your hearts shredded by the one who was supposed to adore you. And some of you have been abused by the one who swore to protect you. Because of this I am going to show you the faces and the stories of the men who have been my lamps leading me out of my darkest nights. They are dented and imperfect but valiant knights who have fought by my side and still do on this journey.

“Thank you” will never be a good enough phrase to say how grateful I am that they are a part of my life.

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Randy. “This is not who you are, it is just where you are,” is what he told me. He would send me Scripture and encouragement on the darkest days. When I started therapy, he and his wife LeAnne would send texts every week letting me know they were holding my hand with their prayers as I walked in the doors. He never ran away from my broken. He ran to it. Love does.



Ryan. “I heart your face.” He’d say these words with a smile and a laugh but the smile and laugh wouldn’t last too long as he’d begin to inquire if I had been eating. He kept me from starving during the worst parts of this year when I didn’t care about food and couldn’t remember to feed myself. He would remind me. “Have you eaten today? YOU’RE TOO SKINNY. That isn’t real food. EAT SOMETHING.” He is a Southern mama. He is a safe place.


Matt. He is always quoting some bit of wisdom from a writer or a poet. It never fails to remind me of who I am and where I am headed. He has played the role of friend, pastor, and devil’s advocate. He understands what it is like to walk through Hell and wonder if you are ever going to make it out and as he once reminded me C.S. Lewis wrote, “Adventures are never fun while you’re having them.” He is wisdom and strength.

Jon. He believed in me and believed me. Those are two different things. He and his wife Jenny have taught me so much about what it means to fit and work together in a relationship (when my book is finished you’ll get to read my thoughts on that). But the thing Jon taught me was how to trust authority again. He taught me that being brave and speaking truth is the right choice. And when you are willing to do it, sometimes your truth is heard and honored. He went first. He taught me how to be more brave. And then he honored my truth.


Jeremy. “The darkness may surround you but it will not overcome you.” There is not enough room in these five lines to tell you how this man and his words have brought light into my life. I can only tell you that without the introduction of him into my story I’m not sure if I would be as whole as I am right now. He helped me remember my worth and value. He cared for me just because he could. He is light in the dark.





Jake. “Why can’t you just let me take care of you?” Those words will resonate in my heart for a very long time. He reminded me that in order for me to be loved, I have to actually ALLOW myself to be loved. He has shown me that I am worth fighting for and that I deserve to be fought for and will be fought for. He is my Bedlam partner, my friend and my family and I would walk in through the front door of Hell to drag him out if it was necessary. He is a wild heart. He fights for love.


Cory. I can’t write about him without bawling. He is my bub. Though he’s younger than me, he has taken on the role of my older brother. He has laid down crossfire for me. He has been willing to walk into battle for me. He has kept me from walking into situations that would have harmed me. He is a warrior and a leader and when he said, “You have to come write for Bedlam,” he maybe saved my life. He made me a part of a community that held me tight and helped me heal. He is an advocate. Cory Copeland loves people.


Michael. My little brother. “Stop trying to be so good all the time. Quit trying to save yourself and let God do His job. You suck at it.” He never fails to speak truth to me and has never stopped loving me. Even through the hardest moments. We are very different but he always picked up the phone and had a prayer or just the words “I love you.” He never walked away. He never judged me. He remained. He is my blood.


Dad. “It is providential that you are at home with your dad and seeing good men and how you should be treated while you are in the midst of writing about the dark time in your life.” That’s what my therapist said this morning in our session. And it is true. Being here in this safety is such a good thing at this moment. My dad has never ceased to show his love for me. He has never stopped telling me how loved I am. Even when I didn’t behave how he thought I should. Even when life jacked me up in ways that his life experiences could not have prepared him to fathom, he held me and said, “you’re going to make it. There is more on the other side of this. I love you.” He is grace.

And there is more on the other side. That is what I want you to take away from all of this. From each of these men. From each of their stories. From my story. There is hope. There is more to come. This is not the end of your story. This dark place you are in is not where it ends. There is light. So much light. It comes from all of the people He has and is placing in your life. And these are just the men. If I began to tell you about the women it would take several blog posts.

Take heart, my loves...believe in 398.2….knights are still out there. They may be worn and tired and a bit dented around the edges, but they will fight for you. And they will stand by your side as you fight. They will teach you how to use a sword and when to swing and who to use it against. They will show you how to be more brave and be inspired by your bravery.

I still believe in fairy tales; my version of them. Do you?

Dreaming: It's Not Luck. It's Hard Work.

Warriors fight. Not all of them are on the side of good but they fight. In so many of our fairy tales, we paint this image of a princess who is a blonde haired blue eyed beauty who is a damsel in distress. We see the warrior as this big hulking man who comes and saves this lovely little damsel.

This story is different. The warrior is the beauty. And she’s on the side of good. Justice is her heart.


Her name is Laretha Hulse. I’ve gotten to know her over the past year and a half through an online Facebook group that the two of us are a part of. We are part of a community that encourages us to pursue our dreams and has really become a part of our family during that time. Laretha’s dream is justice, that’s the kind of work she wants to do as a lawyer. The truth is, she already fights for justice now. Earlier this year when I shared the story about being assaulted in an article, she shared it with a community of women. Her heart was so fierce as she learned about others who had experienced the same thing.


Your dream doesn’t wait until you have all of the proper training. It lives and breathes in you now.


When we sat down across from one another via FaceTime to talk about her dream, Laretha told me a story of knowing at an early age what she wanted to do. “I was eight years old and standing in the kitchen with my mother. I remember we were making noodles and I looked up at her and said, ‘Mom, I’m going to be a lawyer.’” And then, she laid that dream down. Life happened, as it does for so many of us. She got married, had children, got divorced, and then fell in love again and was remarried. Laretha has always done well for herself when it came to jobs. She entered the corporate world and found success there.


But her heart longed for justice. That dream never died. Even with all of the living and the life, Laretha’s dream would not be squelched. Just over a year ago, she decided to apply to go back to school to get her degree and become a lawyer. When she went to get all of her application material in order, she found the private high school she attended was no longer in existence. There was not even a single copy of her transcripts to be found. Anywhere. She was informed that if she wanted to apply, she would have to get her GED.


The shame consumed her. Here she was well established and successful in the corporate world and she was going to have to study and pass the GED at 42 years of age. Her community rallied around her and pushed her to go for it. “Who cares?” they said. “It will get you that much closer to your dream. We are proud of you. We believe in you.” Their words propelled her forward. She passed her GED and received her acceptance letter for college, which was conditional because of the GED.


Last winter she began her first semester of school. She was working full-time, going to school full-time, her and her husband have a side business and she was taking care of her family. Her grades? 4.0.


“Chasing your dreams is hard work,” Laretha told me, “you want to cry. A lot of times you want to cuss and sometimes you want to drink. I’m surprised by how many women want to be able to pursue their dreams as well. What has happened for me is NOT luck. It is hard work. I love being able to encourage these women. I think if you’re taking small steps towards your dream, that is what matters.”


When I asked her what it meant to “mutiny well,” she said this,

“Give yourself grace. Realize your dream is not your own. It’s not just about you.”


It’s true. You were given your dream for a reason. That reason isn’t for you to grasp it tightly inside and look at the beauty and glory of what it might be. That reason is for you to go and live it. That reason is for your dream to echo out into the lives of those around you and change their world too. Don’t let the small hard steps stop you from doing what you were created to do. Power through the crappy parts like Laretha. You were made for this, baby.

Mutiny Well


I Hear You

The sunshine was perfect. It warmed my skin as the breeze tugged at my hair and whispered against my cheek. I sat with my legs crossed in the grass looking out at the vineyards and a exact replica of the Microsoft Windows screensaver sky. Next to me was a mostly full glass of the deepest red wine and Ronne, who was forcing a full day of rest upon me.


Behind us a good ol' boy with a whiskey edge to his voice strummed his guitar and soundtracked the moment. We crisscrossed over subjects and thoughts, her pausing to capture blades of grass, light reflecting off of wine glasses, and our boots with her iPhone camera. Story in images.


I stretched out my legs and turned my head to the side. Peace. It was so deep and lovely. Grabbing her phone she snapped a picture.

"You're so much quieter in my house."

I looked up.

"I don't mean you don't speak as much."

And I knew what she meant. Tears began to crest my lower lids.

"When you were here in December, you were screaming. I could feel your spirit screaming. You were so loud."

And the tears flowed. "I know."

"There were moments this year when I would sit in the big chair you curl up in here with Pearl when we were texting with each other and just bawl," she said. "There was one point when I thought you were almost gone. When I thought we were losing you."

I couldn't stop any of the tears. "I did too."

But I am here. And I tell her that. I am here. I tell her how I had to make the choice for myself. How I had to fight and ask for help.

I told her that I had to choose me and the Light.

And I am here. And the tears are flowing not because I am sad, but the tears are there because inside there is finally an answer. In those dark moments, I knew I was screaming. Every fiber of my being was calling out, "CAN'T YOU HEAR ME? This isn't right. I am not right. It is all so damn broken. I am alone and it is all wrong and WHY CAN'T YOU HEAR ME?" And finally now, in the quiet, the answer comes.

"I hear you. I have always heard you. I am always there. In the darkness there was always light and I have sent so many pinpoints of light. LOOK AT ALL OF THEM. Look around you at all of these glorious shining lamps I have surrounded you with, they led you gently out. They heard your screaming. You are heard. I hear you."

I am undone. By the Light. By being heard.

And you, my love. You feel unheard. You are screaming and you feel unheard but you are not. You are just so loud that you can not hear the words responding, "I hear you." So read them right now instead.


Today is New York's


I am on a train to New York. The whistle echoes out into the cool still dark air and I watch the pre-dawn blur past my window. I am on a train to New York. It is almost journey's end. I feel the weight of this story on my insides. It isn't burdensome, but I feel it there. Pressing against my ribcage, beating against the silo of my heart, the words are ready to come out. 

 "Let us speak," they cry, "it is time."

 "Not quite," I think, "it is not quite time for you yet, Story. We have a few more steps to walk." And I can feel that — this next moment. Sometimes in the writing of a narrative a storyteller reaches a point of resolution, at that exact moment is when some sort of chaos is introduced to the story. It is a catalyst. It moves the characters and plot forward. 

I can not pretend to know or guess what the end of my journey may hold. I am only learning this. I always thought Time was my enemy. I feared her and what she would steal from me. Now I revel in her. I no longer look to her ancestors or her children. Resolution, hope, chaos, light, adventure, I welcome it all. I have learned to embrace this moment alone. Yesterday and tomorrow are not here, but today and this train and New York, they are present. 

The words will have their time, today is New York's.

Practical Worship

I was early for my second meeting of the day and it was in Franklin, TN. In search of a Starbucks where I could find a hot cup of chamomile tea and a restroom I stumbled upon Philanthropy. It is a store that my friend, Ronne, has told me about since we've known each other. It is home to The Giving Keys, our favorite candles, gypsy clothes that wrap you in their romantic layers, and products created to fund many different causes around the world.


I had forgotten it existed until I tripped over it on the way out of Starbucks. But the thing which completely took me by surprise was the wall of prayers. It is covered in hooks and handwritten tags. Each tag has a prayer written on it. Some are simple, others are complex.

I stood before that wall and felt it wash over me. On this earth there are sacred places, but they are not always where you expect to find them. In the face of all of those voices, crying out with hope, I was undone. I pulled a tag from the glass jar and wrote my own prayer. A weighty one that shoved back the darkness with the infiltrating power of Light.

You do not walk out of Philanthropy without leaving your prayer and taking a prayer. If that is not a deep practical act of worship then I have never seen one. There amidst the candles, fabric, and copper chains, I saw God's face in those hundreds of paper tag prayers. I left one and chose one and walked out in worship. And that sacred place moment is breathing in me even now.


Life Is Messy. Even. In. Australia.

Yesterday was a beautiful day. I met with two people who not only have accomplished some incredible things when it comes to their dreams, but also have true hearts. The kind of heart that is devoted to their craft and families. One of them is a musician whose music accompanies TV shows that you have in your queue right now and even films that cause fans to dissolve in hysterics at the mention of them.  The other is a NYT bestselling author a couple times over, whose books will soon be films of their own. The thing I loved most about the two of them is their passion for what they create and how it completely outweighs society's definition of their success. It hasn't defined who they are as humans. It has only enabled them to continue on their chosen path. I truly enjoyed the time I spent with both of them, but the human I have to tell you about today is Max.

Max is six. Max has a dream too. Well, I should say Max has many dreams. He is a giant ball of positive energy that will sweep you off your feet with a continual series of hugs, handholding, and sneaky kisses. His love is a glorious thing. I met Max yesterday when I was hanging out with his mom. It was then that he informed me of his dream. 

Me & the Famous Max

Me & the Famous Max

"I want to have a cooking show on YouTube!!!!!!!!" 

Yes, all of those exclamation points are necessary because this is how Max speaks. The power to help this dream come true was within my reach, so I asked his mother permission. We made this dream a reality. Max's excitement was so contagious that I shot the video vertically and laughed so hard I shook the camera. It is not the best footage, but Max is brilliant in it.

Me & Max C.

Me & Max C.

As you'll see when you watch it, he's never at a loss for words. Somehow in his six years on this planet, Max has learned how to narrate every action he takes in the kitchen. He was just talking away as he buttered his toast and proceeded to butter his fingers as well. As he licked the butter off his fingers, he said, "it's okay if you get messy." I responded with, "that's important for people to know, that sometimes life is messy."

"Life is messy," Max said, "even in Australia."

Life is messy. Even. In. Australia.

I asked if he had ever been to Australia. I wondered what this profound statement could mean. "Well, not really..." and he then told me about Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. This is a picture book that is so old I read it when I was a child and as Max tells us during his cooking show video, "comes out in theaters next week." And Max in his full of life, infinite child wisdom has pinpointed exactly where I have been these past several months.

I am here in the middle of this messy life. I tried for years to live a life that reflected perfection and then it all blew to crap. As I am rebuilding, I am faced with the choice of once again replacing the masks that I wore for years or embracing this fact that Max so concisely stated. I am choosing to revel in it, to live in these messy moments and not hide from them. I am finding that they are so full of laughter and tears and six year olds who come up behind you with still buttery fingers to wrap their arms around your waist and sneak a slightly greasy kiss on your cheek.

It doesn't matter how far you go. If you are on the road or at home or if you travel all the way to Australia, life is messy. Isn't that beautiful?

Wherever We Are Is Home


I’m back home at my parent’s house for a few days for the first time in almost two years and it’s different. It took a little bit for me to get acclimated. It smelled exactly the same. Salted caramel and cranberry. But I was different. I’ve changed. I’m not the same girl who left here a few years ago. I’ve been broken, shattered, and am in the process of being rebuilt in a glorious fashion. I have left the long haired, naive hippie child behind. In her place is a short haired woman with a nose ring, red lips, jeans, and a firm understanding of life and grace found in the in-between places.


And home. Well, home is different too. Some parts of it are the same, but it also feels different. The people are the same, so that makes it good. That makes it safe, which is something I haven’t felt much of in the past year.


I’ve been thinking a lot about home in the past week. The idea of it. So I wasn’t surprised when this song came on while I was in the driver’s seat of my dad’s car, sixteen days into this forty day trip. Dave Barnes’ voice drifted out of Spotify and my heart burst open. Sixteen days of people and stories and falling so much in love with all of them I can hardly stand it. These words:


Your voices swirl and welcome me

Hem me in, this anthem sweet

We are all familiar now

In each other's blood somehow


I will never be a stranger

I will never be alone

Cause deep inside of me I know that

Wherever you are, is home


And I’m sure you’re not shocked to hear that I was driving down the road bawling. Sobbing my face off as he continued:


So raise a glass and gather round

Toast the night and friendships found

I lay to rest my troubled face

Breathe deep this amazing grace


I will never be a stranger

I will never be alone

Cause deep inside of me I know that

Wherever you are is home


To understand how I got to this place of driving through an industrial park, tears pouring off the steering wheel and pooling in my lap, you need to back up to a conversation I had with my therapist. Maybe even further to earlier this year when I told her about a him that I was trying to call home.


“He is the safety and the unsafety,” I said. “He feels like home to me.”


“Melissa, something can be familiar without being home. You are an adult, so home should be a safe place,” she reminded me, “You just said he was unsafe.”


I couldn’t see it then. I heard what she was saying but I couldn’t see it completely. I had already began to sever ties from him at that point but that tug of the familiar was hard to break. I still wanted to call the darkness home. It had absorbed me in my brokenness and soothed me in my pain.


The story of how I got from there to this conversation with her recently is a long one. Maybe it’s one I’ll tell in my book. But when I looked at her over FaceTime in one of our sessions over the past month and said fiercely, “I know I cut him out awhile ago but I just need to say, he is not home. He will NEVER be home,” I thought she might need to step off screen for a little moment of victory dance. It was a long road from that darkness into light and that victory dance was well deserved.


In moments of darkness we often cling to the things that we think are saving us. Sometimes those things we think are home are the very things that are keeping us from finding it. Home is a safe place. This journey I’m on is teaching me that. Each of these people I am encountering are showing my heart this fact. They have been reteaching me my worth, my value. There are people in my life who show up just to pour into me without asking for anything. I don’t even know what to do with them.

When I heard these words from Dave Barnes, I fell to pieces. These humans and the ones who have fought so hard for me in the past year ARE my safe places. They are my home. And there are more to come. For you see, as it was created to do, the light has shoved out darkness. There is no room for it now, nor will there ever be. I will leave pieces of my heart in each city I visit. My home will be in all of those places with all of my loves. And “I will never be a stranger. I will never be alone. Deep inside of me I know that wherever we are is home.”

Sometime soon this road may part

Mine may end where yours starts

Should you ever need me

You'll know where I'll always be.

You will never be a stranger

You will never be alone

Cause deep inside of me I know that

Wherever we are is home

Random Bruising


"Kelley," I yelled. "Get in here and look at this." The top of my right thigh showcased a huge knot covered by a just appearing bruise. Earlier in the day, I had found a dark purple shadow covering my right elbow, one on my left knee and now this, the size of a golf ball taking over my right leg. She hurried in and we both stared in horror at the knot that moved as we poked at it. "What did you DO?" She asked.

I couldn't remember. I have walked and ran and tripped through so many airports (11) in the past week and a half, I couldn't remember what I might have done. These bruises appeared out of nowhere. I have been running through this trip at breakneck speed, laughing, loving, healing, embracing joy.  Somewhere along the way, I managed to slam so hard into some piece of resistance I bruised myself without even noticing.

And it isn't just physically.

This trip is already changing me. I told someone the other day, "I can feel the last vestiges of who I was coming off. I'm leaving the pieces behind in each city. They fall off on plane rides and as I race to reach the next gate for my flight. I am becoming. It is good." 

And it is. It is good. It is beautiful. Within twenty-four hours of saying those words, one of those pieces I had left behind tried to reattach itself to me. 

But I fought. And handled it. I shook it off and left it in the dust. The next day, once the nausea had settled, I found myself a little stiff. Laughter still came and so did the embracing joy but the tears came faster too. 

Mutiny isn't for the faint of heart. I'm ten days in and I have stood on mountain tops. Today it was the floor of Mission Control at NASA Johnson while CAPCOM talked to the astronauts up on the Space Station. I have also laid in the valley like that moment curled up on a bed as nausea overwhelmed me at that ugly piece of the past which tried to reinhabit my life. It is all worth it. It is all part of the journey.

Mutiny is like that. It will leave you with random bruises. You may not even remember the exact moment when you met up with the resistance which caused it. But recognize this, a bruise is a reminder that even though you slammed against resistance, you have moved past it. You will feel some discomfort from the moment, maybe even some nausea and a bit of pain. There will be a discoloration and weakness in that area for a few days. Just hold on. You are still moving forward and away from the object which caused it. 

Random bruising is temporary. It isn't a setback. If you want to live this adventure called life, get accustomed to it happening once and awhile. Adventuring and the people you meet along the way will open you up and suck you dry and fill you back up again. This life and it is meant for living. Don't back away from it because you are afraid of a few random bruises. They will fade. Not even their memory will remain. But the laughter and love and embracing joy, those memories are inked upon your soul. Soul writings not random bruisings, this is what will last.

Finding Your Sweet Spot: Kelsey Humphreys

The first time I saw Kelsey Humphreys, I double checked my shoe to make sure I didn’t have toiled paper stuck to the bottom of it. I also flashed a big smile at one of my girlfriends and said, “My teeth. Do I have anything stuck in them?” The first thing you feel about Kelsey is that she has her crap together. She has that sensation about her of knowing who she is, where she is headed, and how she is going to get there. Once you’ve talked to her, you realize this is pretty close to reality and she can teach you the same things. But you feel much more comfortable.

Like all of us, Kelsey isn’t completely perfect. In fact, when I asked her how she got to the point of owning her own business and publishing her first book, her exact words were this: “It was a crazy hot mess.” When she began college, she had planned on getting a degree in music. Deciding that this just wasn’t stable enough, she chose an art degree instead. Yes, you are thinking the same thing that Kelsey’s parents did. Brilliant.

She ended up getting a graphic design degree, pursued a career in that, quit her design career and went back to pursuing music. Becoming a singer/songwriter pop star became her goal. She soon found that she was spending most of her time marketing herself and designing things instead of practicing. Though she loved being up in front of people and making them laugh, performing wasn’t something she enjoyed anymore. So, she bit the bullet and went back to her design career.

Very quickly, she rose to the top. She was soon the Associate Creative Director and then was approached by a large company to do freelance work, having the opportunity to start her own business.

Available now on Amazon

Available now on Amazon

Which leads us to now, Kelsey has just released her first book. She wrote it to help people avoid making the same mistakes she made. It’s called Go SOLO: How To Quit a  Job You Hate and Start a Business You Love. One of the things she learned from pursuing a career in music was how frustrating it is to work on a dream and realize it’s not what you actually want.

One of the things I love about Kelsey is her unfailing positivity about humanity.  “Everyone has so much untapped potential,” she said, “we’re the ones who put limitations on ourselves. God builds us with the passions we have and we’re so quick to dismiss them.

I asked her how she knew this was the right dream. That it was the dream.

Her response made me smile because I knew exactly the feeling she was talking about. It echoed my experience with this project. My feelings about writing. 

“It’s like suddenly being all consumed. When you find your sweet spot, you are energized rather than depleted. Doors begin to open unexpectedly. Dreamers are going to fail more and fail harder. I would rather do that then submit myself to a life I don’t love. I kept the book close to my heart until it was past tense, until I had already written it.” And I understood. Sometimes close people in our life have seen all of our screw ups and mistakes and won’t always recognize the dream the same as we do. Sometimes we have to pursue it with everything, make it a reality, then present it to the world.

And that is what Kelsey is done. She and her dream are taking the world by storm. And she’s not done. I asked what was next and she was ready with her answer. “I want my own show. If Ellen and Tony Robbins had a love child show that would be my show. One that focused on entrepreneurs tapping into their potential but also where we had fun.” I smile as she waves her hands about enthusiastically. There is no doubt in my mind that Kelsey will continue changing the world. She’s learned the difference between what she’s good at and and what she was created for. The story will have more twists and turns than she can imagine but I think she’s learned how to embrace them.

Dare Mighty Things: The Cartographer of Other Worlds

He maps another planet and writes poetry. Fred uses the images sent back to Earth by a robot we built and carted off to Mars to show us how we would get from one place to another if we were there. On that surface. And what it would look like. "It's a juxtaposition of Old and New World," I told him, "the calling of a mapmaker and the tools of the Modern Age."


I met Fred Calef on Twitter, of course. This is where I meet all sorts of interesting people. He is a planetary geologist on the MSL (Mars Science Laboratory) project for NASA. If you know me very well, you know I'm fascinated by all things Science and Space related. The thing that drew Fred and I together in our conversations on Twitter was our love for poetry. When I mentioned I was coming to LA for a few of my interviews, he asked if I would be interested in a tour of JPL (NASA Jet Propulsion Lab) and I jumped at a chance. It was my first visit to a NASA site. It felt like home but it also felt like I had stepped onto the set of Syfy's Eureka. I'm accustomed to being able to hold my own in conversations on a variety of topics and being fairly well versed in them. It was obvious the people I was sharing the air with here were other level smart.

Here's what I found shocking. Each of these people have incredibly important things to do. They build things that visit other parts of our solar system and other planets. They send other humans into space. 


They talk to stars. 


But they all took time like Fred did to smile, wave, answer questions, and say this thing, "please take all the pictures you want." It didn't matter that their IQ outweighed mine by several pounds, they were genuine and kind.


As we sat next to each other at the sushi bar after the tour, Fred told me his story. He has had many opportunities to stay in higher level jobs, but he knew he wanted to get his PhD. He pursued it. "You have to ask for you what you want," he tells me, and talks about his first connection with the scientists at JPL before being done with his schooling.

I think about this trip and how I have asked for what I want in my interviews and even the Kickstarter; how that is all so true. If you are going to get to where you want to go, you have to be willing to ask for some crazy things. Instead of staying in a comfortable position for a long term career, Fred chose to finish his doctorate. Immediately, he was offered a job at JPL and shortly thereafter a position on the MSL team.


He told me of some of his future dreams and how he longed to remain behind the scenes. This is something that he has done for years. While in grad school in Alaska, he co-created a recycling program that the city desperately needed. But he did it just to solve the problem. He did it because it needed to be done. "I just want to make a difference in the world. To be a part of something bigger. It doesn't need to be for money or fame, just as long as it impacts something or someone," this is what he told me about his dreams. I think of all the scientists encouraging visitors to take pictures. It isn't about them as an individual, just like Fred doesn't long for recognition. They are saying, "look at what can be done if you will dream it. Look at what we as a community can  accomplish together."



There is  a wall at JPL with large letters on it that simply says, "Dare Mighty Things."  I was taken with it. This part of why it's so easy to fall in love with the people of NASA and my #SpaceTweeps. As scientific as they all are, there is so much poetry and passion in their hearts. These words grab my insides and pour courage into my heart and I think of Fred. He could have stayed in any one of those jobs and made more money and had more acclaim. Instead he chose a harder path. One which doesn't necessarily guarantee him great notoriety in the now. He pursues these dreams anyway. Cartographer of worlds, he dares mighty things. This inspires me. Especially as I think of where he will go from here. And it leaves me with this question; what of you, dreamer, what mighty thing will you dare?


Dreaming in the Eye of the Storm

It was a little over a year ago that we first spoke. The idea for Caneland Coffee was just beginning  to swirl about in Brandon’s head and I was trying to help him define his brand. “My wife was a little wary,” he mentions as we speak now a year later, “she said ‘you do a lot of stuff but not for a long time’ and she was right. I had just purchased a DJ table and sold it, because who am I kidding. I don’t want to be a DJ. But coffee roasting, it just felt different.”


Brandon Spencer, owner, operator, chief roaster, Mr Everything at Caneland Coffee didn’t always know what his dream was. In fact, he told me something that I’ve heard in varying forms from many dreamers, “If I could sum up my the first thirty years of my life in a couple of sentences, it would be this. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had been told I could do anything, so I wanted to do everything. I couldn’t focus. I just kind of did stuff because I had to pay the bills.”


BOOM. That sound you hear going off is my brain exploding because my insides are resonating so hard with the words carrying all the miles from the Midwest through the phone to me here in the middle of the Southwestern desert. I know that feeling. My whole life I was told the same thing. My opportunities were limitless like Brandon’s. “You can do and be anything. You have an education or you can get the one you need. Work hard, be creative, use your intelligence. Be what you want to be.” And you are left with the question….


Who do I want to be?


This is a question Brandon found himself faced with. He sat down at his kitchen table and began to assess his gifts and resources. And began to dream about roasting coffee. It just felt right. “It felt different than all of the other things,” he says. He bought a popcorn popper to roast his first batch of beans in, became entrenched in the mechanics and science of it, and even went to Seattle and toured several shops.


And then he built his own roaster. “I love how it brings together so many different things that I enjoy doing. It makes me feel half Heisenberg, half Mr Wizard. I have to be doing science and marketing, but also using my hands. And, I love coffee.” He quickly learned that he was good at it and Caneland Coffee was born.


Brandon’s desire is to make good coffee accessible to everyone. He noted the “certain coffee culture” that comes along with roasting your own. “I mean, I don’t wear suspenders or have a mustache,” he joked, “but seriously, if you like what you drink then I think you’re fine.” He told me the story of a tasting he did in Seattle that made a profound impact on him. It was the first time he was able to pick out distinct flavors that coffee often hints at. “The first one I couldn’t quite capture. It was peach. And the second was blueberry, full vibrant, sweet. The guide said this thing I’ll never forget, ‘If you’re tasting something that I don’t that’s fine and if I taste something that you don’t it’s fine.’ That’s what I want to teach people about coffee. It's not about the experience I think you should have. It's just about the experience you have.”


That’s where Caneland’s idea for the passport subscription came from. It’s a simple way to try out new coffee without having to agonize over what to choose. You sign up for the service and once a month you get a new coffee in the mail from somewhere in the world. With it comes an info card that tells you where the coffee is from and a little bit about roast. You learn more about coffee without feeling as if you’re being spoken down to. It’s your experience. Caneland is just the vehicle that gets you there.


Dreamers like Brandon and I have a hard time finding our big dreams. Maybe it’s because we were created for a few things. Maybe it is because we find the world around us so fascinating it is hard to stand still for more than a minute or two and focus. When I asked him why he was still doing this dream, why this had him so captured, he told me this. “Mornings are busy, it gives me a four to five minute window of standing still that are mine. For five minutes I can think and dream about whatever. That becomes the eye of the storm for me. The more often I do that the better my day goes. At that point the coffee becomes the vehicle for those moments.”


From here, Caneland Coffee has big plans. Brandon wants to continue expanding the subscription program but another passion of his heart is working behind the scenes with the growers. When Caneland is big enough, they will be able to participate with an organization that promotes sustainability in coffee growing regions. This organization supports education and teaches women how to run small businesses. They are also involved civic projects to help offset the fickle nature of the coffee market.


Brandon’s dream continues to mutiny and I am so happy to have he and Caneland Coffee as a sponsor of this Mutiny. With the non-stop pace of this journey, I will need those moments of pause, eyes in the storm. And you do too. Let Caneland Coffee inspire your dreaming and doing.

Mutiny Well, Dreamer.


Thank You For Remembering Me Then

Pastor Dave,


You may not remember me. I attended your church for awhile when I was married, after leaving another church in your town. Sometimes I would see you at the library where I worked and we would talk about books we both had read. We, of course, ran into each other at Culvers. I've heard it said that if you sit long enough next to the Trevi Fountain in Rome the entire world will go by. You know that in the town we lived in, Culvers was our Trevi Fountain. It doesn't matter if you remember me now because the thing I want to thank you for is remembering me then.


In the beginning of a dark spiritual moment of my life, you took the time to make me feel known.


The first time I came to Central, you walked out into the congregation, per usual, greeting people, shaking hands and hugging them. After you had spoken to us and walked away, I broke down sobbing. I have grown up around ministry my whole life. My family are pastors, preachers, etc, you name it. Until I was 28, my life was one ministry role after another. That was the first time someone had just acknowledged me for being there, not for what I could bring to the table. That's a harsh sentence. I don't mean it bitterly. Ministry and church building is a hard thing and when you see someone with an ability or abilities it is normal to want to use those. I get it and don't judge anyone for their actions. I've done the same thing.


Thank you for looking at broken people and loving them. Right there in pew where they are.


That tiny act you do on Sundays may be one of the most impactful ones you make in your lifetime.  Maybe it doesn't feel like it, but it is changing the hearts of your community.


My life is radically different now. I've been through many dark things, including a divorce. I have been broken, shattered, burned down, left to be reborn from the ash and am now learning to pursue wholeness with all of me. Somehow in the midst of it, God is choosing to do something brilliantly unexpected. At the end of this week, I leave on a forty day roadtrip across the country to speak with forty people about the dreams they are living and the journey it has taken them on. A pilgrimage of people.


It all culminates in a book I'm writing called Mutiny of Dreamers. Today I just wanted to thank you for your tiny mutiny of making me feel known. In a world where it is easy to be seen by the masses, being known is the thing our soul longs for the most. Most of us don't realize there is even a difference. Thank you for knowing the difference and choosing to act on it. You have impacted my story. 


You are a dreamer who has taught me to mutiny well.

Dear Hannah, You Make Me Say F...

Hannah Brencher is an author, speaker, and founder of The World Needs More Love Letters. Her first book, “If You Find This Love Letter,” comes out March 2015. She has a two weekly emails she sends out, “Dear Monday Secret Society,” and “The Living Room (For Undergrads),” both have waiting lists a mile long. They’re worth waiting for.


Dear Hannah,


You make me say F a lot. When I first started getting your Dear Monday emails, it was usually Thursday before I had a chance to read them. Now they are as much a part of my Mondays as my regularly scheduled therapy session and induce almost as many swears. In case I have you thinking this is a bad thing, let me clarify. It isn't.


Your words have jacked me up. Sometimes they make me angry. One day they tore me to shreds and the next week they bound up my bleeding wound. What you write forces the reader to leave where they are. You don't let someone stay in limbo.


Dreamers need this. People who haven’t found their dreams yet need it too. Maybe they need it more. That’s why I chose you to be part of this mutiny of dreamers. From the reactions of my launch team, I think I did well in choosing you.  


This was the first response I received.


My correspondent has requested to remain nameless.

My correspondent has requested to remain nameless.



And another.




They then insisted we have a virtual dance party that included All About That Bass & Shake It Off  in your honor. The point being, people care about your story. It resonates with them.


In one of your Dear Monday emails, you said this thing. It keeps bouncing around in my head because it’s the way I feel too.


“I will naturally expect the best out of you. And maybe you’ll let me down. But I will expect the best out of you again. That has nothing to do with how I hope you will show up for me, specifically. It has to do with how badly I want you to show up for your own life. That’s where my expectations lie— in the hope that you will see at the end of your longer days that you were made for so much more than an “okay” life.”


And this is why your dream and the mutiny of it is so essential, Hannah. You teach us to long for more. You show us to desire the deeper things. Your words remind us that we were created to “show up for our own lives.” Show up in the set your teeth on edge beautiful moments and the wreck your soul painful ones. You, sister, hand out the most loving b*tchslaps because you know our heart needs them. You have faith that it can handle them. You make us better. You are teaching us to mutiny well.


Help me tell Hannah’s story. Join the mutiny:


Mutiny Well, Dreamer.



He is Light in the Dark

Jeremy is a storyteller. He is a writer, director, producer, photographer, videographer, and if there is something else that fits into that category, he can do it. Some of his work can be found at


The first time Jeremy and I had a real conversation, he was in the middle of a coup in Thailand and I had just completed a Twitter rant about hot man Pinterest boards. At that moment I figured it was a pretty good indicator of how life would go. His destiny was to be off changing the world in some exotic locale, where as I would just be here, making ridiculously unnecessary points to no one on the internet. Obviously some things have changed.


Jeremy has worked with a variety of brands and creatives and could namedrop you so fast you wouldn’t even feel the floor until it smacked you in the face and broke your nose. But, he’s not like that.


He’s one of those rare humans. The kind that everyone likes. Seriously. Everyone. Every other person I know who knows him adores him. Also, six degrees is a myth, the world is super overlappy these days.


Almost two months ago, I had one of the most difficult days I’ve ever had. One day soon I’ll tell you the story of these dark months and how they have all led to this. In the middle of that painful day, Jeremy popped up. We hadn’t talked in awhile. Both of us had been busy with life and chasing dreams. He asked how I was doing but there are days when the darkness is so thick you can’t tell another human the details of it. I made it seem like less than what it was. He made that moment lighter.


A few weeks ago we had another conversation that left a mark. He was telling me about this side project he’s been working on. It blew my mind. “This is redeeming.” I told him. “I’ve had so much crap happen in the past year; seeing the beauty of this is a gift.”


Then he said these words. I quoted them in my video about the Kickstarter’s setback. Many days they echo in my head.


“I’m sorry about the things you have been facing, but you ARE brave. And they are shaping you and your story. And it will be redeemed. And you will be healed. And it will be a hard part of your story. But it will be a good story.”


“Jeremy, you are light in the dark.”


And, he is. This is why I chose him for this project, to be a part of my book. We need dreamers like him. The gentle who battle the dark with a ferocity. The ones who remind us that it doesn’t win. We need those dreamers who look the ugliness that death and war and sin have wrought in the face and say, “Your story will be redeemed and it will be a good story.”


The story of Jeremy’s dream is a powerful one. It needs to be told. Join the mutiny and help fund this journey:


Mutiny Well, Dreamer.




I Would Rather Try And Fail Than Live A Safe Life

“I finally got a shower.” The blonde woman with the damp hair on the screen in front of me laughed. “It’s been a couple days.” I commiserated. I understood. With the craziness of this Kickstarter campaign, I had to think for a moment and we laughed together as I hesitantly noted that I thought I had taken one the day before. I never imagined I would be the person who got so wrapped up in a project I couldn't remembered if I had showered or eaten. "It's a little crazy," I smiled. “This is the good kind of crazy though,” Colleen English said. “The kind that is meaningful.”


And I think it is.


We met on a rainy February day earlier this year in San Diego where we were both attending the Storyline conference. We immediately bonded over the fact that she had been raised in Scottsdale, AZ. I currently live there and neither of us quite fit the mold. Rebels. It's our thing.


Colleen’s life is already pretty busy with her children, one of them being a special needs child with Rett Syndrome. A little over a year ago, she was struggling to find time for rest. “I had forgotten how to be refreshed. I was away with a girlfriend for a spa weekend and I couldn’t slow down. My mind was going in a million directions.” She knew that her life held more than the busy she was filling it with but if she couldn’t slow down for rest, how would she find time for anything else?


So, Colleen became intentional about learning how to find moments of quiet and reflection in the midst of a hectic life. She started an art journal and picked watercoloring back up. Every three weeks she made time for some kind of time away to pamper herself. She began a practice of daily gratitude, “even on the darkest days when things are the most frustrating or the crappiest, it's important to be looking for the good in it." Each of these things she scheduled into her days and she began to find the rest her body, mind, and soul craved.


During this time, her family heard of a clinical trial for Rett Syndrome which they could apply for. “We were standing at physical therapy one day and I was just babbling on to the therapist as I usually do. I heard myself say, ‘Claire does so good when we’re consistent in our therapy appointments. I mean if we’re consistent in appointments we don’t really need to do the trial.’ They stopped in what they were doing and stared at me. I realized I hadn't mentioned the trial to them before.” She pauses in the telling of this story with a fierce look on her face. “I could see it in their eyes. Both of them. They were thinking, ‘We would rather do the trial than lead a safe life.’ And so we did.”


They applied for the trial and were accepted. Millions had been raised for the research. Only thirty families were needed to make the data count, but the families had to travel to Boston for the treatments. The financial strain to do this was too much for most of them who were already raising a special needs child, so the trial was having difficulty finding families who could participate even if accepted.


This is where intentionally rested, rebel hearted Colleen’s passion met her greatest need.   


In one of the online communities that she and I both are a part of, she had just watched a group of people pull together to create a useful and  amazing project in a very short time. Money had been raised and the power of community had worked practical miracles. Colleen was inspired. She knew if the trial was going to happen, she had to help these families be a part of it.


Barely a year ago, The Rettland Foundation was born. They initially raised $3000 and began helping families with a first night in a hotel or a plane ticket. One small thing. A boost to say, "you can do this thing. We are here. You are not alone." Community. It evolved into something more. Families in these situations need support. There are things you can’t talk about, like side effects or outcomes. There are things you need  to talk about, like the constant travel, stress, and how it is all changing your life. Moderated support groups were formed out of the connections that were made through the foundation to ensure that the clinical trials wouldn’t be affected by the discussions but that the families would still have a healthy outlet.


“I didn’t know how we were going to raise money. But sometimes it just happened,” Colleen said. She told me of this moment when there was a specific need of $2500. Her and Claire were on the plane to Boston for another treatment and she was working on her laptop. The man in the seat next to her struck up conversation and happened to look over her shoulder. When she landed and settled in, she found that he had donated exactly $2500. She hadn’t told him about the need, but the provision occurred. “And it does,” she told me, as tears streamed down both of our faces.


The first trial finished faster because of the work that The Rettland Foundation was able to do in supporting the families involved in it. Colleen’s dream mutinied and is changing the face of a disease. As we were finishing our conversation, she said the most blunt and profound thing.


“People don't get it. We've lost friends, many friends. You will. People don't always know what to do or say when you're pursuing your dream. They're more comfortable with ordinary. I didn't do this to get friends. I did this because I'm awesome. That sounds conceited but it's not, because YOU'RE AWESOME TOO. Look, we fly on an AIRPLANE from California to Boston to cure Rett Syndrome. Do you know how many dreamers it takes and took to make that happen? So, why can't my dream happen? WHY CAN’T YOURS?.”

You have a choice. You can live a safe life or you can fly. It will be hard. As Colleen said, you will lose friends. People won’t understand. They will think you are crazy. But you can change the world. She is. Why not you? And why not now?

Mutiny Well, Dreamer.


Story Threads & You: Why I'm Actually Writing This Book

It was 7:00 am and my body ached from the chill of the room and the only three hours sleep I had managed to snag the night before. The thin sheets and down comforter were pulled up over my head and under them my phone lit up as I typed away.


Notebook: M.O.D.


"The moment of choice is a brilliant one; when a human chooses who they are."


The words poured out as the grey dampness tried to claw its way in between the tightly pulled curtains. I thought I was writing about humanity in general. I believed I was writing about someone in specific. I didn't know I was telling my own story. 


The words I would write that day about mutiny and choice were relevant to my state of being.


In talking about Mutiny of Dreamers and this trip, I think I have done what we all do. I've oversimplified the point. I wanted this project to be accessible for everyone. A journey that was easy to understand and join in. There are pieces of it which are but last night someone asked me a question. The question made me realize this dream needs greater definition for you.


This book, this journey, isn't just about telling other people's stories. If only I were that selfless and lovely. If you know me at all, you're probably snorting right now. I tell story. The ones I'm the best at telling are the ones which have intersected my life in some way. 


This is why I have chosen these dreamers. Their dreams have impacted me. Some up close. Some far away. This journey is about understanding the what and the how and the why of their mutiny because inside of me is a story scientist who is fascinated by these elements. I can couch it in other terms and tell you it's for all of us. 


AND IT WILL BE. I promise. It will teach us how to mutiny well.* What not to do. What to do. The poignant. The painful. The hilarious. All of that along the way.


But, this is my story. It's the story of my mutiny. My dream's mutiny. And I think I'm learning that a mutiny isn't planned to the nth degree. It starts out with a bit of a structure but then evolves.


This is what dreams do if we allow them. You can detail out that dream all you want. Do it. Planning is essential. But leave room for the unexpected. Leave room for your dream to morph and evolve and mutiny into something bigger or slightly different. It's their nature.


My story will be woven into theirs. That's how our stories work. We connect. A thread is formed or our threads become entangled. Your words flow into mine as the ocean meets the shore. Story shapes. It's a thing of a beauty.


Come join my mutiny. My dream's mutiny.

*This phrase "mutiny well" I must give credit to Matt Ham for. He is the one who said it first to me.